Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Guilty pleasure/More examples

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More examples of guilty pleasures[edit | edit source]

Any activity that initially causes pleasure, followed almost immediately by the feeling of guilt due to either personal norms or social expectations being violated can be considered a guilty pleasure (Cova & Goffin, 2019).

Gendered consumerism[edit | edit source]

There is evidence to suggest the secretive partaking in guilty pleasures does not apply evenly across all consumers, with most guilty pleasures advertised products are either female or both gender focused, eluding specific male focused (Lancellotti & Thomas, 2018). Research by Lancellotti & Thomas, (2018) argues men are less responsive than women regarding guilty pleasure messaging and advertisement. The researchers also argue men and women respond differently, in opposite ways, when confronted with such advertisement, due to the fact that men and women experience then response to guilt differently.    

By engaging in the isolation of affect, men are generally able to develop defences against any guilty feelings in contrast to women who generally carry guilt as a significant weight that links to self worth. Women generally suppress their needs in relation to others and thus will blame the self and turn hostility inward in order to protect a relationship. Any implicit permission by advertisement to ignore guilty feelings when the product is labelled as a guilty pleasure may have a negative effect on men, as the permission is opposite to the tendency to isolate the negative affect, through the suggestion that permission is required to avoid the guilt.

In contrast to men who generally assign guilt to an action than self worth, women generally experience guilt as an evaluation of the self and by having advertisement grant permission to avoid the guilty feelings are more likely to feel relieved and will enjoy the advertised product. The research also showed that men are less likely to be satisfied with products marketed as guilty pleasures, even if they were traditionally male centric products or gender-neutral products. Implications from the research shows the ongoing use of marketing products as guilty pleasures should therefore take into account gender considerations for more effective broad appeal.

TV shows[edit | edit source]

The table below focuses on results from viewers who consumed ‘bad’ television and yet found themselves in a contradiction: they would condemn these same shows yet continue to watch them.

Table 1. Results from viewing styles of 'bad' television (McCoy & Scarborough, 2014)
Viewing style Summary of viewing style Resolving the normative contradiction Type of ‘bad’ television (or other media) consumed Typical type of reaction
Guilty pleasure The viewer feels uncomfortable and somewhat ashamed for watching ‘bad’ television but feels like it is something they cannot resist doing The view experiences the tension of both condemning and consuming ‘bad’ television and hence, for their viewing habits. Sensational reality television (e.g Teen Mom, Toddlers and Tiaras, Hoarders), day-time talk shows (e.g Maury, Jerry Springer Show). ‘This is horrible. I can’t believe I am watching this.’

‘It’s like a car crash, It’s awful, but I can’t look away.’

Firstly, the 'bad' media was something they couldn't escape from, however the tension felt was relieved when viewers claimed it was simply too irresistible to stop. This separated the viewer’s guilty self from the true self.

Secondly, the shows were considered 'mindless', with viewers claiming the programs were something 'light-hearted' to watch after work. The 'trashy' media could be consumed without any mental strength and as such could be seen as ‘pointless’, which was in fact the pleasure of watching.

Thirdly, viewers watched a small portion of ‘bad’ media as a way to offset all the consumption of ‘ high culture’. Seen as a form of pop culture reward, a small portion was considered okay as long as it was paired along with a large healthier dosage of ‘good’ media.              

Finally, the viewers from high culture believed watching the ‘bad’ shows was okay because of their awareness to the ‘trashy’ aspect. Therefore they believed they were unable to be negatively affected by having the clear consciousness.

Sex[edit | edit source]

Figure 1. Dating app accessibility has allowed researchers to examine reactions and engagement to sexually explicit content

Arias et al. (2020) presented findings from two studies focusing on dating apps and examining the frequencies and enjoyment that users had when exchanging sexually explicit material. The researchers also investigated the involvement of users with the sexually explicit content with app-related disappointment. As users usually hold either a positive or neutral expectation towards using a dating app, the researchers adapted the concept of dating app disillusionment, which affected users perception towards themselves and other users. The disillusionment model suggests the potential disappointment within the self or towards other dating app users after receiving unwanted sexually explicit content.

The disillusionment model can describe individual-related disappointment towards ruined expectations with feelings of regret. This regret is caused from made the wrong choice and the wish to have acted differently. The researchers proposed that since negative app experiences could lead to negative attitudes, individuals could become disappointment with themselves, because they had for example gotten involved with users who sent sexually explicit content. With the assumption that some users have strong moral codes against sexually explicit material, any involvement, even briefly may result in the user being disappointed with them. The findings from the studies indicated the participants who highly enjoyed any sexually explicit content also felt disappointed afterwards.   

Examples of guilty pleasure addictions[edit | edit source]

Though this list list is not exhaustive, as many activities can be considered a guilty pleasure and therefore become an addiction, these studies bring some context to what happens when short term temptation of a guilty pleasure is favoured over long term goals.

Shopping[edit | edit source]

Researchers Calleja and Clark (2009) investigated behavioural addiction regarding compulsive buying as well as the buyers potential to adjust their mood. Parallels were compared between other addictions and the sample of compulsive shopper participants, all of whom recruited were Maltese University students. With a goal of contributing to the expanding addiction subject, the data findings indicated compulsive shopping contained the same elements found in other behavioural addictions already identified through prior extensive literature. Additionally, the compulsive shoppers indicated the shopping was their means to elevate their mood. However these pleasurable feelings that were elevated during shopping where short term, and so perpetuated the cycle for more compulsive buying to gain the feeling of pleasure again. The pleasurable state while shopping is therefore the motivation behind the addiction, with several negative consequences in the long term including financial debt and emotional turmoil (Dittmar & Drury, 2000).        

Pornography[edit | edit source]

Pornography use has become common in developed nations, with a number of studies indicating a strong correlation between self-reported addiction with moral incongruence (Grubbs et al. 2019). The discrepancy is between individual beliefs regarding pornography use and actual pornography use behaviour. The self-report addiction responses gathered within the US population by researchers Grubbs, Kraus & Perry (2019) indicated 11% of participating men agreed to slightly being addicted to pornography and 3% strongly agreed. These feelings also supported strong association with moral incongruence regarding the pornography use.

Although there are many publications depicting the excess consumption of pornography, the issue of whether being ‘addicted to pornography’ is supplemented with a ‘loss of sexual impulse control’ when faced with sexually explicit content can be distinguished from a ‘healthy sexual state’ is still up for debate (Voros, 2009).      

References[edit | edit source]

Arias, V., Flora J., Niehuis, S., Oldham C., Punyanunt-Carter, N., Reifman, A., & Weiser, D. (2020). Guilty Pleasure? Communicating Sexually Explicit Content on Dating Apps and Disillusionment with App Usage. Human Communication Research, 46(1), 55-85. 10.1093/hcr/hqz013

Calleja, K., & Clark, M. (2009). Shopping addiction: A preliminary investigation among Maltese university students. Addiction Research and Theory, 16(6), 633-649.

Cova, F., & Goffin K. (2019). An empirical investigation of guilty pleasures. Philosophical Psychology, 32(7), 1129-1155.

Dittmar, H., & Drury, J. (2000). Self-image ± is it in the bag? A qualitative comparison between ``ordinary and ``excessive consumers. Journal of Economic Psychology, 21, 109-142.

Grubbs, J., Kraus, S., & Perry, S. (2019). Self-reported addiction to pornography in a nationally representative sample: The roles of use habits, religiousness, and moral incongruence. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 8(1), 88-93.

Grubbs, J., Perry, S., Reid, R., & Wilt J. (2019). Pornography problems due to moral incongruence: An integrative model with a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(2), 397-415.

McCoy, C., & Scarborough R. (2014). Watching “bad” television: Ironic consumption, camp, and guilty pleasures. Poetics, 47, 41-59.

Voros, F. (2009). The invention of addiction to pornography. Sexologies, 18(4), 243-246.